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Perhaps the most effective and traditional herbal cleansing compound in Ayurveda is triphala (literally three fruits, tri = three and phala = fruits). It is composed of powdered amalaki, haritaki and bibhitaki and because each fruit is beneficial to a particular dosha (vata, pitta or kapha), the three combined make triphala a unique cleanser that helps to re-balance all the doshas at the same time.

The amalaki fruit is very sour, but because its secondary tastes include sweet, bitter and astringent, its effect is cooling and good for pitta. Amalaki cleanses the small intestine, the seat of pitta, and the liver. It helps reduce hyperacidity and nausea and is known for improving digestion without disturbing pitta. Also known as amla, it can be found in many shampoos and hair oils as it is very nourishing for hair and skin.

Haritaki is mainly astringent, but also possesses sweet, sour and some pungent tastes and therefore pacifies vata as its effect is warming. Haritaki works principally on the colon, where vata resides, and is especially good for removing excesswind” and restoring the tone and elasticity of the colon wall.

Bibhitaki has an initial astringent taste, and although sweet is among its secondary tastes, there is enough bitter and pungent to make it beneficial for kapha. Bibhitaki helps to purify all bodily fluids and is found to be helpful particularly in areas of the lungs and stomach, where kapha is found. Asthma, wheezing and other lung disorders are traditionally thought to respond to bibhitaki.

By combining the “three fruits” to make triphala, many imbalances can be alleviated or even prevented. While other Ayurvedic formulas may be recommended for short periods of four to eight weeks, triphala can be taken as a tea over several months. There are some contraindications. Triphala can increase pitta. If this is a concern sometimes just amalaki can be used. It is always recommended to take the advice of an Ayurvedic physician. There are many different ways one can use triphala. One common way is to use 1/2 to 1 full teaspoon to make a tea and drink this in the evening before sleep or early in the early morning upon rising.

Because triphala contains five of the six tastes recognized in Ayurveda (all but salty, which is not always useful in cleansing or rejuvenation), triphala may taste different each time one uses it. For example, if a person does not regularly receive the bitter or astringent tastes in his or her diet, the triphala tea may seem extremely bitter/astringent when first used. After three weeks of taking the tea, along with reducing one's sweet and sour intake, the triphala may then taste sweet or sour because the other tastes have been supplied through the tea.

Triphala has potentially hundreds of uses. Besides those already mentioned, it can be used to clean the teeth and gums (although it may eventually stain the teeth), as a poultice for some wounds or rashes, or in medicated enema (basti). In some cases triphala can be used for obesity and toxicity, edema and fever.

There are stories in Ayurveda of old “vaidyas” (physicians) who helped dozens of patients each day using only triphala. Dr. Lad has observed that “a good healer need not remember the names of a thousand medicines. Even a few can suffice if one knows many different ways of using them.”

Properties of Triphala:

• best rasayana for all 3 doshas, highly potent

• also called pranada - life-giving energy, yields prana to all cells, food of cells

• promotes health, removes ama

increases calm, decreases [[nightmare]]s

mild laxative, purgative, relieves constipation

• promotes digestion, normalizes appetite, improve tone of connective tissue

blood builder, increases red blood cell

• microchyle - has all 6 tastes - yields into rasa dhatu

whatever taste is lacking in microchyle - triphala yields that taste

if triphala tastes bitter - then the plasma protein of microchyle is lacking the bitter taste

Guidelines for Taking Triphala

vata - mix with water because of dry throat, take 1 hour after dinner, removes gases, or take in the morning 1 hour before breakfast for laxative action to relieve constipation.

pitta - drink as a tea, take before going to bed to bring it to the liver for virechana.

kapha - take triphala directly on tongue, acts as diuretic, so better in morning - not at night

Vaidya Vasant Lad, BAMS, MAsc, Ayurvedic Institute Gurukula Notes, Ayurvedic Institute, 1994-2006

Standard Triphala: 2 Parts of Haritaki, 5 Parts of Amalaki, 3 Parts of Bibhitaki


Search MedLine PubMed for triphala (Latin Botanical name)

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Alan Keith Tillotson, Ph. D., A.H.G., D.Ay, (Author), Nai-shing Hu Tillotson, O.M.D., L.Ac., One Earth Herbal Sourcebook: Everything You Need to Know About Chinese, Western, and Ayurvedic Herbal Treatments]], Burlingame, California: Kensington, 2001. ISBN 1575666170 Paperback: 596 pages.

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Vaidya Vasant Lad, BAMS, MAsc - Anisha Durve, L.Ac, DOM - Ayurvedic Institute Herb Seminar 1999-06-18-24, Ayurvedic Institute, 1999

Vaidya Vasant Lad, BAMS, MAsc, Ayurvedic Institute Herb Seminars, Ayurvedic Institute, 1994-2002:

Vaidya Vasant Lad, BAMS, MAsc, Ayurvedic Institute Gurukula Notes, Ayurvedic Institute, 1994-2006

Vaidya Vasant Lad, BAMS, MAsc, Ayurvedic Institute Ayurvedic Studies Program Notes, 1994-2006

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triphala.txt · Last modified: 2018/02/26 18:13 (external edit)